Police Chief Terry Mangan will be docked four days’ pay as punishment for his armed run-in with three men outside his home, City Manager Roger Crum announced Monday night.
While he sympathized with Mangan’s concerns that night, Crum told the City Council the chief used “inappropriate language and demeanor” when confronting the men.
Mangan “should have conducted himself at a level which reflects his status as head of the department,” Crum said, reading from a prepared statement.
The discipline will cost Mangan $1,264. He earns $84,752 a year.
In a Monday memo to Crum, Mangan called the discipline “appropriate and fair.”
“Obviously, my handling of this incident and particularly my language has been the occasion of both criticism and embarrassment, and for that I am truly sorry,” the chief wrote.
The night of March 8, Mangan armed himself with a loaded shotgun and left his Spokane Valley home to investigate three men parked outside in a Chevrolet Blazer.
Playing an automotive game of hide-and-seek, the men were waiting for fellow members of a citizens band radio club to find them by tracking their radio signal.
Two of the so-called “bunny hunters” - Bruce Rakowski and Bill Nelson - said Mangan cursed and threatened to shoot. Rakowski also accused the chief of hitting him with the gun and kicking him in the leg.
Mangan admitted confronting the men but denied hitting or kicking Rakowski, or making any threats. He said he was concerned about the safety of his wife, who was due home at any moment.
Last week, Spokane County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser cleared Mangan of criminal wrongdoing, saying the chief acted within his scope of duties as a law enforcement officer.
An internal police investigation requested by Crum determined that Mangan didn’t violate any departmental or police procedures.
Crum said he also spoke with five “senior command staff officers” who said they would have taken the same action as Mangan under the same circumstances.
Mangan, 58, chose the “‘intimidation method’ of gaining initial control of the situation …,” Crum said. “Some officers would have recommended the ‘escalation method,’ in which you start in a less intimidating manner, but be prepared to escalate your response if necessary.”
Breaking away from his written comments, Crum told the council: “Let’s face it, you have an aging, short police officer - somewhat past his prime as a police officer - approaching” an occupied car on a dark street.
“He took the action he thought was appropriate in this case.”
While Mangan’s discipline far exceeds what would be given to a lower-level officer, Crum said, “I feel that it is an appropriate reminder that we, as senior city officials, are held to higher standards of behavior than our subordinates.”
Crum added that the attention given to the matter by investigators and the news media was far more than it deserved.
“We all make mistakes, and Terry is paying the price of a public blemish on an outstanding 30-year career.”
Mangan was hired to head Spokane’s police department in 1987. He previously was Bellingham’s chief.
This is not the first time the chief has lost pay due to his use of foul language.
In 1994, Mangan suspended himself for two days for swearing at a 19-year-old man who made an obscene gesture at him.
Following the March incident, the American Civil Liberties Union pressed Crum to discipline Mangan, saying “serious sanctions” must be “imposed for repeated incidents of admitted verbal abuse of citizens.”
Attempts to reach Julia Schauble, chairwoman of the ACLU’s Spokane chapter, were unsuccessful Monday.
Reached at home Monday night, Mangan said he was relieved to put the incident behind him.
“I think reaching closure on this is a very important thing … We’ve got a lot more important things to get on with than this.”
But Nelson, one of the men involved in the incident, wasn’t pleased with Crum’s decision.
“They’re just sweeping it under the carpet, trying to make people forget what happened,” Nelson said. “He should have had something more than a slap on the hand. That’s all it was.”